Alphabet Soup Part 2: 504 Plan

In the first blog in this series, I explained what an IEP is. It would be a good idea to read that blog first as it is a good reference point in comparing the two plans.

A 504 Plan is short for an accommodation plan that is covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal law that requires any person or agency (school) receiving federal money to have policies in place that prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. As this is an educational blog, I will focus on the school aspect even though the law is broad enough to include other agencies.

Here is a general overview of the differences in the two plans.

504 Plan


Legal document

Legally binding document with far more safe guards and legal repercussions

504 hearing not required to be made available by school district

Due process required to be made available to parents for disagreements

General description of supports the district will provide

Very detailed plan addressing goals, objectives and current levels of performance as related to the specific disability as defined by IDEA

Not specifically special education

Special Education

Made eligible under section 504

Made eligible under IDEA

Can be temporary

(ie student will be allowed use of the elevator while on crutches for 6 weeks)

At least 1 year

Fewer protections for the student

Far more protections for the student

Students with ADHD not required to be provided a 504 plan

Other Health Impaired diagnosis can help students with ADHD

Can cover conditions that IDEA also covers

Can cover conditions that section 504 also covers

All school personnel provide accommodations

Special Educator is the case manager and supports regular educators and others with whom the student comes in contact


In summary, a 504 plan is much more general, can be temporary, is a legal document, but not nearly as binding as an IEP and is not considered to cover special education services.

Here is a great example of a 504 plan for a student diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and Dyslexia. It defines how the disability is covered under Section 504, the disability itself, and the specific accommodations necessary for the student to have access to all programming and educational opportunities.

Education Champion can help you determine which path to take in order to help your student be successful in school. EC can also help you prepare for both the IEP or 504 process. Give Kim a call at 309.824.5738 or email her at